How might Yarn help museum visitors to co-produce exhibition material on childbirth and its associated risks?
A tangled yarn: I don't know this story's ending, the middle's a mess and I'm not sure the introduction is catchy enough.
How can I share it and who would want to listen? Organising your thoughts can feel like herding cats.
But Yarn is all about constructing narratives....
What do I know about stories?
I have a background in Classics and classical literature has taught me that stories are woven and crafted.
...they can relate histories, myths and legends, as in the Iliad:
"Helen in her rooms....
weaving a growing web, a dark red folding robe,
working into the weft the endless bloody struggles,
stallion-breaking Trojans and Argives armed in bronze
had suffered all for her at the god of battle's hands"
(Iliad III, 151-154).
Our stories form interconnected tapestries, passed down through generations, across space and time...
....which brings us to a recent CCN+ project about experiences of childbirth and digital resources...
‘Digital Engagement & Cultures of Expertise’: technological imaginings about pregnancy and childbirth.
"I ended up finding out a lot of information from books and just the weekly Googling on the Internet to see what stage I was at [in the pregnancy] and what was happening to me. It made me feel more in control, just having that information.
I think one of the massive things is just Googling stuff. Any question that you’ve got, you put it into your phone and you’ve got an answer in five seconds. Not like the midwife, who never gave me a straight answer."
"Everything we were talking about before [in relation to pregnancy] - the NCT classes, the huge amount of information you find, how you want a natural birth or no pain relief - all just kind of falls down at the point of birth."
Thornham, H. M. 2015 (in press), ‘irreconcilability in the digital: gender, technological imaginings and maternal subjectivity’. Feminist Review 110 (May 2015).
Research highlights how the stories told to us (mis)inform our own experiences.
From here we can go on to consider...
- What are our own experiences?
- Did they match up to our expectations?
- What were the twists and turns and what did we learn through hindsight?
- How did we try to remember (or forget) it? With photos? Telling others? Social media?
- Did we focus on some moments and ignore others?
- Who might we want to tell about our experiences and why? How will it benefit them?
So how can we get our stories across? What if I'm an analogue storyteller?
Not everyone wants or knows how to engage and tell stories digitally. Our lives are complex, so we need a more complex, 'messier' approach:
A Manifesto for Digital Messiness!
"[...] So this project will highlight the complicated nature of online identity management and the need to reject the ‘digital by default’ and ‘smart cities’ agendas as arbitrary measures of success for digital interactions.
It will make the case for a ‘messier’ articulation of digital’s potential, and in doing so celebrate citizen-centred initiatives and activism that sees beyond the uncritical claims made for digital as a force for good."
Harte, D. 'Why a Manifesto for Digital Messiness?'. Online at D. Harte 2014, A Manifesto for Digital Messiness, viewed 10 December 2015, http://digitalbydefaultmanifesto.com/2015/04/23/why-a-manifesto-for-digital-messiness/#more-8
What if I don't want to put my family snapshots online?: Privacy and safeguarding.
We need to consider:
- Trust building and group agreements
- Yarn allows us to present ideas without using personal content if we don't want to, by linking to content on the web to illustrate passages.
- Using resources from museum archives.
- Moving away from narrative as 'true stories': embracing creativity and pluralism; stories that weave together as a mesh and suggest different perspectives
- The option to share experiences anonymously.
Creating content (digital or otherwise)
Non-digital workshop outcomes can be recorded in digital formats (photographs, audio files, videos, etc.), but...